Friday, March 6, 2009

1951 Kaiser DeLuxe 4-door Sedan

"Built to Better the Best on the Road!"

Cuba's automotive landscape is clearly dominated by the products of the "Big Three", but with a bit of luck you can find some unfamiliar cars here. This rare Kaiser DeLuxe from Zaza del Medio is proof that in the early 50s there was still room for smaller companies to take part in the business.

The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was founded in 1949 by two like-named businessmen, who wanted to get their share of the ever-growing automobile market in the U.S. Two brands were introduced, the Kaiser being priced below the more upmarket Frazer. After a generation of rather conservative cars, Kaiser's lineup for 1951 should become very avant-garde.

Styled by the designers "Dutch" Darrin and Duncan McRae, the Kaisers looked very nimble with their huge glass surfaces, and the low beltline. The characteristic front- and rear screen feature, nicknamed "widow's peak" by its designers, and safety features like a padded dashboard made the cars appear very modern, and initial sales of 170.000 cars boosted Kaiser from 17th to 12th place in the annual production statistics. In the next year though, the sales slumped, and never raised again. Already in 1959, Kaiser was insolvent and ceased production, sharing the fate of many "independents" who couldn't keep up with the fast pace of the "Big Three".

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